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Jan 09 2019

Regulation Gone Mad

This month I'm going to update the ongoing saga of registering our change of address with the tax authority. You might remember that a while ago I was complaining about the 2c thick pile of papers that had to be submitted along with an application (signed by our accountant, if you don’t mind) in order to obtain official ‘approval’ for the change.

Last Friday my office manager went to the tax office mid-morning to finalise the paperwork. There had been lots of back and forth before reaching this stage which included some incredibly petty matters such as obtaining copies of contracts between third parties (not involving us) from some years ago, which were then combed through to see if any rules had been broken.

It’s generally true that if any one of us (or our companies) is studied hard enough and in such detail, it’s a fair bet that somewhere along the line we’ve done something wrong – inadvertently or otherwise. Of course they found something, which had to be sorted (at cost, but not involving us) to the great annoyance of those third parties. Sorry about that!
So, back to last Friday. My office manager had a numbered ticket in the queue which didn’t get attended to that day.

After four hours, we decided to cut our losses and not waste her time and she came back to the office. Come early on Monday, they said. First thing Monday she went back and received ticket number 30. She waited until she was seen at 2 pm.

This routine notification can be done online or with a simple form in Australia or the UK. What’s so special about this part of the world that requires all the effort I've talked about – and considerable costs – that justify this? The whole exercise should take a few minutes but instead it has consumed days. Such a waste of resources, and to what benefit? I can’t see any positive reasons to justify why we have had to go to such trouble over a simple matter. The same thing has happened with the social security office and the labour department. It reeks of the civil service making work so that they can keep their own jobs, rather than simplifying matters and saving the country billions of dollars every year just to satisfy the bureaucracy. And, in case you’re wondering, it isn't only in this part of the world – it happens in many countries.

Perhaps in years to come, we will have more enlightened governments that actively seek to improve their people’s lives, rather than those living in the past that want to stay there. You could make that argument in any number of countries around the world.

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